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2016: Bowie, Prince, Princess Leia and perhaps, MPLS?

Walking the pooch along a great beach in fabulous weather is a time where the mind wanders, reflecting, grieving and celebrating the year that was, getting ready for the new year ahead

Not many would argue that the end of year break is a great time not only to reacquaint yourself with your family but to also reflect on the year that was. As our inboxes get flooded with way too much SD (Software Defined Anything/Everything) stuff, I too have been thinking about the highlights and lowlights of 2016.

Some would suggest times have never been tougher for a guy who has, for a large part of his 35 year career hitched his wagon to MPLS based IPVPN technologies/products. What I love about my job however is that everyday presents a different challenge with the range of business imperatives and opportunities touched by wide area data networks put simply, immense. Yes, the market is certainly challenging right now in terms of new players and new technologies but hey, this is all part of the fun!

For the last few years, over Christmas typically (I get bored), I have drafted a summary pack titled "The Five Things that Keep me Awake at Night" where in simple terms I call out internally the key trends I think we need to develop strategies around. I am not going to suggest that I am any sort of network/technology "futurist" but I would like to think of myself as someone who, through my industry contacts and in particular customer visits/presentations, has a "pulse" of what is happening in the market.

In looking back at my 2013 version of this pack my key callouts included the emergence of Internet as a WAN access mechanism and the importance of data centre interconnection offerings. In line with these trends, I am proud to reflect on the technical, and commercial improvements to our corporate Internet offerings and of course, the launch of our new Cloud Gateway and Data Centre Interconnect products during the year.

This year however, I did not do a pack. Of course we need to keep an eye on the market but I decided to invest time over the break improving my general health and wellbeing. As such, I hope you all do not mind me using this new year's blog as my reflective tome for the year.

So, what were my top three highlights and lowlights from the year that was?

Highlights

1. Although a chronic over-preparer and typically a nervous wreck going in, I would like to thank the 20+ customers who gave me their time this year during presentations on our Next IPTM network and roadmap, including SDN/NFV related topics. Yes, I dearly love our Next IPTMtri-path diversity etc but beyond the foundational stuff and some great laughs, typically at my own expense, I hope I added to the collective industry knowledge base.

2. Presenting at Telstra Vantage and in particular my session with Rabban Hansen from nbn co.

Rabban led off our session discussing the evolution of the nbn co. technology and service delivery models illuminating an exciting enterprise focused roadmap. My part of the session was to discuss how customers could make the most of this new core network and application access "on-ramp" via Telstra's breadth of service and application offerings.

3. My work colleagues, and in particular Steven Combes, for organising a golf trip to Tasmania/King Island for my fiftieth birthday. I had an absolutely fabulous weekend away and it certainly reminded me in the best possible way the great people I work with on a daily basis.

Lowlights

1. Our network issues earlier this year reminded us and our customers of how important network connectivity has become in both our professional and personal lives. For everyone who works hard to keep our customers connected such occurrences can be challenging times, but the good news is Telstra has since committed to additional network investment and our resiliency improvement program's well underway...

2. Not necessarily a lowlight but as per my opening, my beloved MPLS IPVPN technology has become something of a target for the new kid on the block SD-WAN technologies. I do not think MPLS is dead but rather it will exist in a more "hybridised" future both in terms of the emergence of cellular wireless being used in more "active/active" site configurations and of course as part of MPLS/Internet combinations.

Re SD-WAN, I still, as per my blog "Taking SD-WAN sexy to the core" think there could be a better way and this will be the year SD-WAN sorts itself out one way or the other.

3. How could any child of the 80s not mourn the loss this year of icons of our pop culture. The first time I heard Bowie "Heroes" it changed everything. Will we ever see another virtuoso like Prince? And I was flattened by the Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds "double whammy".

Some hints and acknowledgements as we go into the new year:

1. What was the problem we were trying to solve again?

A mantra for those confusing coffee meetings with excitable technology providers. Use it, I find it helps along with the classic "So What?" test. As per my favourite SDN video from Juniper, don't fake it, ask what the hell it really means.

2. "Insert topic here 2020"

My distaste for buzzwords is well known but here it comes again. Hey man, it's only three years, let's shoot for 2025. Seriously, the next three years will be very interesting, 5G has got my eyeballs firmly secured.

3. Congrats again to my son Adam on his HSC, but, be nicer to your mother please. If a guy called Larry Waters offers to go on a roadtrip with you, do it, it will be great fun. Thanks to Ben Kingston, Gretchen Cooke and Mark Campbell for their support this year. Makes it all much easier.

Finally, thanks to all my blog readers and I indeed look forward to sharing the latest from the data networking trenches in 2017. Deep breath ...

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